April 3, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Vehicles that illegally encroach onto the new Flushing busway on Main Street will be hit with fines starting next week, the Dept. of Transportation announced Friday.
Only buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles are permitted to use the new busway and the DOT will begin issuing fines for violations on April 9.
A single-vehicle violation will cost $50 with fines increasing to as much as $250 for a fifth offense. Violations are issued against vehicles, not drivers.
The DOT said it has installed cameras along the 0.6-mile route – from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue – that will identify vehicles flouting the new traffic rules. New signage and markings indicating the new rules have already been put in place as well as signs indicating that the bus lanes are camera-enforced.
The controversial new busway went into effect on Jan. 19 as part of a 1-year pilot program to speed up bus services along the busy commercial route. A group of local businesses mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to stop the busway from being installed, arguing that it would deter customers from coming to the busy shopping zone.
The MTA said the layout would improve slow and unpredictable bus speeds for the thousands of riders who traverse the route every day. The city moved ahead with the plans in early January after a temporary restraining order that had delayed the project was lifted.
The DOT started issuing warning letters on Feb. 8 to motorists who illegally use the busway. The warnings have been part of an effort to help drivers get familiar with the new rules.
Under the new layout, only buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles are permitted to travel along Main Street from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue and along a portion of Kissena Boulevard, according to the plans. The rules are in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Passenger vehicles are only permitted to use the busway for garage access and for pick-up or drop-off within one block.
The DOT said it will continue to monitor the busway for the remainder of the program.